Thursday, December 26, 2013

Seven Year Old Future Astronomer


My name is Bronwen. I am seven years old. I am a girl. I would like to be a Space Scientist when I grow up. I am interested in this because I am in love with science! I love science because it is very interesting and awesome. I would like to explore outer space so I can discover and name some planets.  I wonder how many planets are not named yet. I bet 100’000’000’000! Well, probably more.

I would like to learn how fast the earth moves. I want to learn if oxygen can be made in space. I know that the universe is super large and that it is still expanding like a balloon that you blow up.

Another reason that I think it is important to study space is because we can learn about the history of the universe.

My family loves science too. We read science books, watch science shows, and even tell science stories. I was talking about this report earlier to my family and they told me I should write this down.

I hope that some girls my age will read this and get interested in science.

Bronwen Todd

Friday, December 20, 2013

Good Science Blogs

Alice C. Linsley

I have been a blogger for eight years and I maintain six active blogs. I also serve as "blog mistress" for two other blogs. Obviously, blogging is a communication medium that I enjoy and appreciate for its versatility and potential to inform beyond my classroom.

What follows is a list of blogs organized alphabetically by the branch of science. I have not listed the science blogs maintained by mainstream media or science magazines as these are easy to find. This list will take the reader to lesser known blogs that deserve more traffic.

Some of the blogs listed are maintained by Christians. These are designated by † before the link. Christians in the sciences often offer a different perspective and sometimes their findings are not given much attention. I encourage readers to visit the sites in their field of interest and to participate in the discussions.

  †  Biblical Anthropology
  †  God is in the Details (Ingie Hovland)
      John Hawks' Weblog (Paleoanthropology)
  †  Just Genesis
  †  Yam Suph (Susan Burns)

     Bad Archaeology (Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews)
     Elfshot: Stick and Stones (Tim Rast)
     Middle Savagery  (Colleen Morgan)
     Biblical Archaeology (Rob Bradshaw)

    Astrobog (Ian Musgrave)
    Tom's Astronomy Blog
    .py in the sky (Thomas Robitaille)
†  Star Stryder (Dr. Pamela L. Gay)

†   An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution (Steve Martin)
     The Biology Blog
     The Sea Blog (Marine Biology)
 †  BioLogos Blog

     ChemBark (Dr. Paul Bracher)
     The Sceptical Chymist
 †  Daily Reactions of a Chemist (Dr. Amanda Nichols)
     Chemistry World Blog

  †  Naturalis Historia
  †  The GeoChristian
     Clastic Detritus (Brian Romans)

     Bits of Language (Adrien Barbaresi)
 †  Sunshine Mary
     The Seuren Blog (Pieter Seuren)

  †  Christena Cleveland (Social Psychology)
  †  Society of Christian Psychology
  †  Musings of a Christian Psychologist (Phil Monroe)
     Evolutionary Psychiatry (Emily Deans)

     Quantum Diaries
     Antimatter (Cormac O’Rafferty)
     Nanoscale Views (Douglas Natelson)
     The Reference Frame (LuboŇ° Motl Pilsen)

  †  Science and Belief (Ruth Bancewicz)
  †  Rachel Held Evans
  †  Reasons to Believe
  †  Old Earth Creationism Homeschool
  †  Krista Bontrager's Blog
  †  Proslogion (Dr. Jay L. Wile)

STEM (General Interest)
AWIS Blog: Championing the interests of women in STEM

If you know of other blogs of interest to Christians in the sciences, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Quaker Astronomer Reflects

Dr Ruth Bancewicz

As a young child I detected the cosmic microwave background – the radiation left over from the Big Bang. That doesn’t mean I was a child prodigy, it just shows that we had an old fashioned dial TV. About 10% of the static in between channels is caused by the remnants of that first explosion. I am staggered that even a five year old can detect the whisper of the universe’s origins.

The Astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell shared this fact during her presentation at the Wesley Methodist church as part of their Science Meets Faith lecture series this month. It was a fascinating talk, and she was very honest about her own faith and how her science had affected her beliefs.

In the beginning, said Bell Burnell, all of space, matter and energy was contained in a space smaller than a grain of sand. Then time began with bang, and space unfurled like a new leaf from its bud. As space expanded and the radiation from the big bang cooled, energy converted into mass and particles formed. After millions of years, those particles came together and began to form stars: immense flaming balls of gas fuelled by nuclear fusion reactions.

The first stars were made of hydrogen and helium, and when they had burnt themselves out they exploded, scattering their waste products across the universe. Those waste products included new elements, and when our own third generation star was formed there was enough carbon, oxygen and other elements around it to form rocky planets like Earth, and for life to develop.

These vast timescales always send my mind reeling. Bell Burnell said there is a sense of awe when she does Astronomy but you can’t think about the vast size and history of the Universe all the time, or you wouldn’t be able to function normally!

Astronomers noticed a long time ago that the Universe is still expanding. What they found more recently is that is the very distant galaxies are now much further away than expected. The expansion of Space is speeding up, and no one is quite sure why. When the galaxies eventually accelerate away from each other faster than the speed of light, everything outside of our galaxy will be invisible. So in a few billion years, we will appear to be alone in the universe.

This is a pretty bleak picture, and it gets bleaker when you realise that eventually all the hydrogen will be used up, having been converted to other elements, and no new stars will be able to form. There will only be black holes left. The long-term prospects for humanity are poor. The short-term prospects are also poor if you step outside a space ship without the right protective gear! The Universe is – outside of the thin atmosphere of our own planet – a deadly place.

So where is hope? Jocelyn is a Quaker, and it was interesting to hear how she made sense of this scenario. I didn’t agree with everything she said, but it was good to hear someone taking the history of the universe seriously when thinking about God’s character. She said that God either isn’t able or chooses not to be in day-to-day control of the world, but being present before God in worship is an encounter ‘beyond words’ that puts things in perspective.

I am unwilling to share more of what Bell Burnell said about her faith, partly because her lecture was not recorded and made publicly available, and partly because she made a point of saying that her thinking is still evolving. She did use a number of poems to explain her feelings, and I think this one by Michael Leunig reflects the tone of what she said very well.

Love is born with a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
And in the most unlikely place
Love is born:
Love is always born

(Reproduced with the author's permission.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

CWIS Connections and Happenings

Workshop on Public Speaking
The Southern California ASA chapter is hosting an all-day workshop on science and faith topics at the January 25 Winter Conference at Azusa Pacific University.  At the request of CWIS , Dr. Monica Ganas of APU's Film, Theater and Television has offered to do a workshop on public speaking!  We know most of you can’t get there, so we plan to record this and make it available to CWIS members.

The CWIS Blog
We are up to 22 blog posts now, with inspiring information on CWIS topics, and now all indexed by Alice Linsley, our blog mistress. Check out the INDEX here. Perhaps reading the INDEX will give you ideas for articles you might like to write. Write what’s on your heart about being a Christian woman in science. You can be published where other women who share many of the same concerns can read your work. Send your articles to Alice at

CWIS on Facebook
We now have a CWIS Facebook page, courtesy of Kristen Tolson on our Board!  Check us out and like us today!

The CWIS Website
We continue to add content and refine the CWIS website, which is a part of the ASA website.  Since we are changing it often, we put “under construction” on everything.  Be patient with us; we are all volunteers and not professional website designers, and have no money for hiring help.  Nonetheless, we are making progress. Check it out, and send any comments or suggestions to Lynn at 

Attention! Students and Early Career Women in STEM

Opportunities for Students/Early Career CWIS Members

Faith Tucker, the Board member focusing on students and early career members, describes our special focus on students and early career women at :

We are working on several special opportunities for this group.  If you are a student or early career scientist interested in getting involved, or an established scientist willing to serve as a resource, email Faith at
  • CWIS Mentorship Program pairing students and early-career scientists with established Christian women in their discipline
  • Role Model Stories on the blog profiling the women of CWIS who blazed the trail before us
  • Virtual (and hopefully at times physical) community and support of other women in the same stage of their schooling or career
  • A platform to request answers to specific questions regarding school, research, career, family, faith, or anything else
  • And more!
Give us some feedback and help us connect with Christian women preparing to enter careers in science and technology and young career women now working in STEM.

CWIS Call for Abstracts

The 2014 annual meeting (July 25-28, near Toronto, ON) has a special symposium for Christian Women in Science.  This is our “coming out,” so to speak, in the broader ASA community, and we need you to help make this a strong session.  Our intention is to raise awareness of gender issues and their intersection with Christian faith and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through high quality research that contributes to our understanding and actions.  Some ideas to stimulate your interest:

·        What issues impact the retention of female students in STEM fields and their persistence in professional work?
·        What are the barriers to success faced by females in STEM fields and how do they differ from those faced by males?
·        What is the Biblical and/or theological rationale for the appropriateness of female participation in STEM careers?
·        What does psychological research say about gender differences and their impact on Christian female participation in STEM disciplines?

The deadline for abstract submission is Feb. 14, 2014 through the ASA website. Details provided here.

Contact Gayle Ermer ( with questions. She is the Christian Women in Engineering and Science Symposium Chair and serves on the CWIS Board.

Also, we are planning a social event and/or fellowship time for members during the conference. If you have any ideas for the format or timing of this event, contact Gayle at the email above.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Goals of CWIS

What are the goals set for Christian Women in Science (CWIS)?

• Encourage more Christian women to go into science, technology, engineering, or math and to remain active in their careers

• Encourage more women in the sciences to be bolder in sharing their faith or to seek Christ for the first time

• Help more Christian women move into leadership or management positions in science

• Grow ASA by outreach to Christian women in science, increasing gender diversity of ASA membership and leadership

• Provide connections, encouragement, information, and role models for pre-career and early-career women in science

• Support mid-career women with work/life problems related to being a Christian, a woman, and a scientist

• Provide opportunities for our established leaders to make a difference in the lives and careers of other Christian women in science, to share their wisdom and experience, and to be recognized for their service

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Board of Christian Women in Science (CWIS)

Lynn Billman, CWIS Board Chair
23 October 2013

The first CWIS Board was assembled during our opening months of operation. Given that this is a brand new organization, we relied on the Holy Spirit for guidance, and the ASA Executive Council for feedback, and came up with several criteria. We wanted women who have demonstrated support for the ASA overall, who had shown a strong interest in the mission of CWIS, and who thought they would have enough time to participate on the Board. As to the best number, we were finally led to try the biblical number of seven. Diversity on the Board seemed an important criteria for us to be able to successfully serve our desired audience, and we managed to put together a good group for our initial Board:

· Some Board members are professionally associated with secular institutions, some from Christian institutions, and some with professional experience in both.

· We are university professors, government research managers, one person with consulting experience, and one student.

· We include a chemist, mechanical engineer, plant scientist, energy analyst, integrative biologist, science educator, and aerospace engineer.

· We range in age from graduate student to retiree.

· Our Board calls are convened across all four time zones in the United States.

As we agreed in our Charter, the duties of the Board are to:

· Set policy and direction of Christian Women in Science.

· Determine the proposed activities for the next year that Christian Women in Science will initiate and sustain to achieve its mission and goals for its stakeholder communities.

· Recruit, select, train, motivate, and guide volunteers to implement these activities as needed.

· Respond to suggestions for new or additional activities as they are offered by the membership or others.

· As necessary, review official communications (blogs, newsletters, website material, etc) of Christian Women in Science before publication or dissemination.

· Report periodically on activities to the membership and to the ASA leadership.

Please feel free to contact any of the Board members with questions or ideas. We need your active participation to let us know what you need, what you want, and how we are doing! Thanks for your support.”

Christian Women in Science
Board of Directors, 2013

Ms. Lynn Billman grew up in Chicago, and earned a BS in Chemistry and a Phi Beta Kappa key from University of California Berkeley in 1975. After several years at Chevron as an analytical chemist and operations analyst, she began a 26-year-career at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, where she served as a senior energy analyst, institutional planner, science writer, and manager, for many different energy-related projects, until her retirement in Sept 2013. Her husband of 34 years passed away in late 2012, but she has four grown children, three spouses, and three grandchildren in the Denver area. She became involved in ASA in 2003, and was blessed with being elected to the ASA National Council to serve 2013-2017. Lynn is excited to able to help encourage more women to become involved in ASA, and to help other women scientists realize that Christians are not the enemy. Lynn was elected an ASA Fellow in 2009.

Contact Lynn at

Dr. Gayle Ermer serves as a professor of engineering at Calvin College, where she has taught mechanical engineering courses since 1994. Her educational experience includes degrees from Calvin College (B.S. Engineering – Mechanical Concentration), the University of Wisconsin – Madison (M.S. Manufacturing Systems Engineering) and Michigan State University (Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering). Her technical specialties include machine/system dynamics and manufacturing system quality. She has also written papers on engineering ethics, women in engineering, and Christian perspectives on technology, many of which have been contributions to the Christian Engineering Education Conference (CEEC) and to ASA, where she was recently elected a fellow. She is an active member of Jamestown Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI, where she regularly leads worship and sings on a praise team. Gayle was elected an ASA Fellow in 2013.

 Contact Gayle at

Dr. Beth Kroa is a native of northwest Ohio. Beth majored in chemistry at Bowling Green State University for her bachelor’s degree and studied at The University of Toledo for a doctorate in organic and biochemistry. Inthe fall of 1983, her freshman year of college, she became a follower of Christ after reading the book of Romans in a New Testament she received from the Gideons. She worked in the chemistry field as a high school chemistry teacher, a research scientist, and university faculty member. She and her husband David have been married since 1986 and have one son, James, who has lived in his room in heaven since 2010. Beth is currently an assistant professor of chemistry at Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN, and she and David reside on a small farm in nearby Niles, MI with two dogs, a cat, and several chickens. She is involved in mentoring, discipleship groups, and music ministry at her college and home church and is often found at Gideon conventions and banquets as a testimony speaker.   

Contact Beth at

Dr. Ann Marie Thro has served since 2001 as a National Program Leader in the areas of plant breeding and genetic resources, in USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture. During 2011/12, “on loan” to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, she worked with counterparts in the Ministry of Agriculture in Afghanistan. Her previous positions include service as Commissioner of the USDA Plant Variety Protection Office (1999-2001); Coordinator, Cassava Biotechnology Network, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia; Technical Advisor, National Grain Legume Program, Gandajika, Zaire (now D.R. Congo) (1991-92), and Associate Professor of Agronomy, Louisiana State University (1982-1992). Ann Marie earned a PhD and MS in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Iowa State University; a BS in Agronomy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a BS in History from Bryn Mawr College.

Contact Ann Marie at

Dr. Kristen Tolson is a postdoctoral research fellow at UC San Diego, studying the regulation of pubertal development and the interface of reproduction and metabolism. She earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences (BS) and World Cultures and Religions (BA) from California Lutheran University in 2004, and her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2009. Kristen is dedicated to both research and education, using her research experience to inform her teaching and bring relevance to abstract concepts. She works to remain active in the larger community through volunteer opportunities, especially in programs designed to increase scientific interest in disadvantaged and minority populations, and also recently began teaching Microbiology of Infectious Diseases at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Contact Kristen at

Ms. Faith Tucker is the youngest member of the board and an educator by training. She brings her passion for students and early career scientists to the CWIS board. Her interest in the intersection between faith and science was sparked while double majoring in Astronomy and Religion at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. Since graduating, she has spent time working in astronomy education at NASA, teaching high school astronomy and physics, and managing communications for the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in science education from Stanford University.

Contact Faith at

Dr. Leslie Wickman directs the Center for Research in Science at Azusa Pacific University (APU), where she stimulates the dialog on science and theology by bringing in renowned speakers, and a full professor at APU, teaching Astronomy and related classes. Leslie has a PhD from Stanford University in Human Factors and Biomechanics, and an MS in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from Stanford, and a BS in political science from Willamette University, Oregon. She worked for Lockheed Martin and NASA Ames Research Center before coming to APU, and continues to consult for NASA, the Air Force, and other clients Her current projects include research on global climate change and national security issues, assessment of current and future space mission technologies and applications, human factors issues in extreme environments, and sustainable water reclamation systems. Leslie was elected an ASA Fellow in 2013.

Contact Leslie at

Monday, September 30, 2013

More Christian Women in Science and Math

Alice C. Linsley

Christian women can gain encouragement from reading about the lives of other Christian women in the sciences, in math, and in technology. Here are three women whose lives of service have left a mark on the world.

Agnes Giberne (1845–1939)

Agnes Giberne was born in the state of Karnataka in India where her father, Major Charles Giberne, was in military service. She was a prolific British author who wrote fiction with religious themes for children and books on astronomy for young people. She was a devout Anglican and wrote for the Religious Tract Society. She was a founding member of the British Astronomical Association.

Her illustrated book Sun, Moon and Stars: Astronomy for Beginners (1879), with a foreword by Oxford Professor of Astronomy, Charles Pritchard, was printed in several editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and sold 24,000 copies in its first 20 years. Most of her writing was done before 1910.

In her book Through the Linn; or, Miss Temple's Wards (Google e-book) is found this prayer that was quoted in over 100 books of early 20th century:

Gracious Saviour, gentle Shepherd,

Children all are dear to Thee;

Gathered with Thine arms and carried

In Thy bosom may we be;

Sweetly, fondly, safely tended,

From all want and danger free.

Tender Shepherd, never leave us

From Thy fold to go astray;

By Thy look of love directed

May we walk the narrow way;

Thus direct us, and protect us,

Lest we fall an easy prey.‎

Sister Mary Celine Fasenmyer (1906 -1996)

Mary Celine Faenmyer was a mathematician, most noted for her work on hypergeometric functions and linear algebra.

Mary grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. For ten years after her graduation from high school she studied and taught at Mercyhurst College in Erie. It was there that she joined the Sisters of Mercy and dedicated her life to teaching and ministry.

She pursued her mathematical studies in Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, obtaining her doctorate in 1946 under the direction of Earl Rainville with a dissertation entitled Some Generalized Hypergeometric Polynomials. The hypergeometric polynomials she studied are called Sister Celine's polynomials.

After getting her Ph.D., Sister Celine published two papers which expanded on her doctorate work. These papers would be further elaborated by Doron Zeilberger and Herbert Wilf into "WZ theory", which allowed computerized proof of many combinatorial identities.

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and the wife of an evangelical pastor. She serves as an expert reviewer for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Katharine has a B.Sc. in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois.

As an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of Interior's South-Central Climate Science Center, Katharine develops new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she also bridges the gap between scientists and stakeholders to provide relevant, state-of-the-art information on how climate change will affect our lives to a broad range of non-profit, industry and government clients.

Her climate research has been featured in the PBS documentary series, The Secret Life of Scientists, and in articles including True Believer that appeared in On Earth magazine in 2012, and Spreading the global warming gospel that appeared in the LA Times in 2011. With her husband, Andrew Farley, she coauthored A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions (FaithWords). Katharine was named in 2012 by Christianity Today as one of 50 Women to Watch.

Related reading: Christian Women in Science, Technology and Engineering

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Charter: Christian Women in Science

CWIS Charter
Revised August 12, 2013

Christian Women in Science is a fellowship of women in science and related disciplines who share a common fidelity to the Christian faith and a commitment to integrity in the practice of science. Christian Women in Science was founded in July, 2013.


The mission of Christian Women in Science[1] is two-fold:

· To encourage Christian women of all ages to pursue, sustain, and grow in a career in science, technology, engineering or math, and

· To encourage women in these endeavors to pursue, sustain, and grow in the Christian faith.


Stakeholder Communities

Our community of stakeholders includes:

· We strive to serve those women involved or interested in science[2] in high school or college or just starting their careers, those in the middle of their careers, and those who are established leaders in their careers.

· We strive to benefit and support the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA[3]), of which we are an affiliate.

· We strive to bring special benefits to women who formally join our fellowship.

· We strive to serve the public with information and insight.


We have many specific goals related to our mission. The highest priority goals at any point in time will depend on the individuals that are available to help pursue those goals.

· Encourage more Christian women to get into science and engineering

· Encourage more women in science to be bolder in sharing their faith or to seek Christ for the first time

· Encourage Christian women in science to remain active in their careers and in their faith

· Help more Christian women move into leadership or management positions in science and engineering

· Grow ASA membership by reaching out to Christian women in science

· Bring more gender diversity to ASA membership and leadership

· Provide connections, encouragement, information, and role models for pre-career and early-career women in science

· Support mid-career women with work/life problems related to being a Christian, a woman, and a scientist

· Provide opportunities for our established leaders to make a difference in the lives and careers of other Christian women in science, to share their wisdom and experience, and to be recognized for their service


As an affiliate of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), we support the ASA’s statement of faith and policies: [4]

· We accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct.

· We confess the Triune God affirmed in the Nicene and Apostles' creeds, which we accept as brief, faithful statements of Christian doctrine based upon Scripture.

· We believe that in creating and preserving the universe God has endowed it with contingent order and intelligibility, the basis of scientific investigation.

· We recognize our responsibility, as stewards of God's creation, to use science and technology for the good of humanity and the whole world.


The general public will benefit from the work of CWIS through information provided on its public website, and specific activities that the Board makes available to the general public.

· CWIS members will become members by first joining ASA and then joining the CWIS affiliate. The ASA has several categories of membership, including Regular, Associate, Student, Friend, and Fellow.[5] ASA/CWIS members in any of these categories (except Friend, by definition) will sign the ASA statement of faith as given above under “Beliefs.” ASA/CWIS members will receive special incentives, such as being able to access the CWIS affiliate membership directory, participating in special activities open only to CWIS members, or other member-only privileges.

· People interested in CWIS but not interested in ASA membership can become ASA/CWIS Followers. A follower will provide email and other information about himself/herself, and does not need to sign the statement of faith, but will not have access to the CWIS member directory or other member privileges.

Organization and Management

Christian Women in Science will operate under the rules and requirements for affiliates of the ASA listed in the ASA By-Laws.

The affairs of Christian Women in Science will be led and managed by the Board. The duties of the Board are to:

· Set policy and direction of Christian Women in Science.

· Determine the proposed activities for the next year that Christian Women in Science will initiate and sustain to achieve its mission and goals for its stakeholder communities.

· Recruit, select, train, motivate, and guide volunteers to implement these activities as needed.

· Respond to suggestions for new or additional activities as they are offered by the membership or others.

· As necessary, review official communications (blogs, newsletters, website material, etc) of Christian Women in Science before publication or dissemination.

· Report periodically on activities to the membership and to the ASA leadership.

The Board will consist of at least three and no more than ten CWIS members, who are also officially members of ASA. The perpetuation of the Board will be decided at a later date. Also, any other structure of the Board (such as President, Vice President, Secretary, etc) will be decided at a later date.

The Board will conduct its business through email, teleconferences, and other electronic means as needed, and will meet in person at the ASA national meeting each summer to the extent possible.

Directors receive no compensation for their services. Decisions about CWIS requiring dues of members, or some other type of financial transactions or funding, will be decided at a later date.

[2] References in this document to science, or to science and engineering, should be assumed to refer to all four areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.